Two Philadelphia designers—one with everything at his voice-command, the other finding joy in an analog life—face off on the role of technology in the modern home.
Ferrarini & Co. Kitchens & Interiors
I never recommend technology to my clients. Instead, I recommend convenience through technology. For most people, you can find tools that save time, money or cognitive load, whether you say, “It’s party time” to set the stage with lighting and playlists, or enlist smart appliances paired with food ordering and cooking apps to generate grocery lists, place orders, preheat the oven, and pull up recipes. Most of these solutions are invisible. Voice command is big for our family. When I say, “Hey, I’m home,” everything—the lighting, the temperature, ESPN on low in the background—is exactly how I want it. For my kids, this technology is intuitive—they expect to be able to talk to things. It can change the mood too: When I say, “It’s dinnertime,” a Latin playlist comes on, the lights dim, and they know we’re shifting to family time. We also have a wind-down setting, where the lights gradually dim as bedtime approaches so your body gets ready for sleep; when I say, “Goodnight,” my door locks, the alarm system turns on, the drapes close, and the temperature is adjusted to turn off in nonsleeping areas. It’s like Steve Jobs’s blue jeans and black turtleneck: The goal is to make fewer decisions. With that load lifted, you live better.
I design for pauses. In my work, I focus on bringing life and richness to spaces—and for me, rest is valued most. Having unplugged moments at home is essential for my health. I believe in napping, living with ease, and not always having a jam-packed schedule. When you’re in your home and it’s just you, your music, and a book to dive into, how peaceful is that! Being in an environment that you created just for you—your personal retreat—these are the spaces I design to help my clients recharge. That thinking manifests in other ways too. I don’t use a microwave; I like to slowly cook my food—to taste and savor the flavors. I also got rid of all the TVs in my house during the 2016 election cycle. It was cathartic. By intentionally limiting technology, I can protect what my mind and body consume. It is important to have some technology. I need Siri to turn the music down—but on the other hand, I don’t know that I want Siri to turn off the bedroom lights. And do I want to hear the sound of my own voice all the time, giving out commands? I need a place where I feel protected—where it isn’t about drowning out the noise, because there is no noise. That’s peace.